Iraq marshes 'gone in 10 years'

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The Independent Online
LONDON (AP) - Reconnaissance photos reveal that the Iraqi government has drained more than 40 per cent of its southern marshlands and burnt villages once inhabited by opposition Shia Muslims.

According to an environmental study released yesterday, dead fish are floating on the surface of the marshes, vast areas including a lake have dried up, and the unique marshland habitat will probably be destroyed in the next decade or so. The study was commissioned by Assist Marsh Arabs and Refugees. The World Wide Fund for Nature International and the British government helped finance it.

The study's findings were supported by dramatic film taken on 4 March by RAF fighters enforcing the 'no fly' zone over southern Iraq which was shown at a news conference yesterday. The footage showed smoke billowing from several burning villages.